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Boys in ladies changing rooms at the gym.

(62 Posts)
Sago Mon 06-Sep-21 20:25:47

My gym visit was ill timed today, as I was changing the mums came in with their boys and girls.
I was most surprised to see the ages of the boys who were in the changing rooms, I would guess the eldest was 9/10.
Is it just me or are they old enough to go into the male changing rooms?

Jackiest Tue 07-Sep-21 09:41:32

Life would be so much simpler if we were all naturists.

Beswitched Tue 07-Sep-21 11:56:25

Communal changing rooms are the problem. Most shops did away with them years ago and reverted to individual cubicles. Gyms and leisure centres need to do the same.

Nannarose Tue 07-Sep-21 12:45:47

Individual cubicles also remove any concerns about gender identity.
The pool I use is not very new - they have had this arrangement for years. It also means that if there is a gender-specific activity, all the cubicles are available.

You do lose the lovely 'communal' feel of a (women's) changing room, with its friendliness, a small disadvantage.

Actually, I do think issues around naked bodies are 'cultural' issues - but 'sniggering' about them will take a good few generations to breed out, so in the meantime we have to deal with it!

I personally have no problem about sending boys over 7 or so into male changing rooms (I have male children & GCs). There are enough kindly & helpful men to counter any concerns. I also think that all children need to be taught how to behave, look after themselves, and how to ask for help if needed.

Sago Tue 07-Sep-21 14:27:00

Bluebelle It wasn’t so much a modesty issue!

Yes of course I am guessing their age but not based on height more on dress, demeanour, conversation etc.

There are cubicles but the mums nabbed those and left their boys in the communal area!
There was a little girl who seemed very disturbed at the boys presence.

The gym/pool is a very lovely members only country club, everyone is signed in, it’s as safe as you can get.

It just struck me that age 7 my husband went to boarding school and my youngest son boarded from 10/11, how old does a child have to be to dress and undress unaided?

Wheniwasyourage Tue 07-Sep-21 14:33:55

Many years ago, when our children were young, our local swimming pool changed from separate male and female changing areas to what we learned was called a village changing area. In other words, everyone uses the same space, but we are expected to change in closed cubicles. It is mandatory to wear swimming attire in the showers. While it was a bit of a surprise at the time, it solves the problems of what to do with younger children of the opposite sex to the accompanying parent, exposing children to inappropriate nudity and now, which changing room trans people should use. Why can't they all do that and save a lot of fuss?

BlueBelle Tue 07-Sep-21 14:46:43

It just struck me that age 7 my husband went to boarding school That doesn’t make that right for everyone I wouldn’t or couldn’t dream of sending a 7 year old to boarding school

But also I must have missed the bit where the mother was dressing them … how old does a child have to be to dress and undress unaided reading back you just said she nabbed the cubicle and left the boys in the communal area so how did she dress them ?? ? or was that a throwaway remark
I think 10 is too old but maybe she just wasn’t confident enough to leave them on their own in the men’s area it’s a difficult one really
Personally if I was you I d just wait for a cubicle to be empty or cover up with a big towel and change under that

BlueBelle Tue 07-Sep-21 14:55:50

Even with all women there, I don’t strip off butt naked I put a towel round me I wouldn’t inflict my ass on the world ???

Bibbity Tue 07-Sep-21 14:58:28

It’s not about dressing or undressing themselves.
Or about the class of the members. Look at the news most the predators are from the upper classes.

kjmpde Tue 07-Sep-21 15:06:31

your comment made me remember about changing rooms when at school. I attended an all girls school but we had games of an afternoon one day a week, The man looking after the sports field looked after his grandson and every week his grandson would "accidentally " ( no doubt persuaded to enter) come into the changing rooms and the pervert of a grandfather had to follow him in to collect him . If kids are small then there is a risk of them running wild into dressing areas with curtains etc. At least older kids usually have a better understanding of social distance

Redhead56 Tue 07-Sep-21 15:17:37

We took our children to the leisure centre they had cubicles. I would not let either of my children go to the toilet unattended. I went to the museum and took them to the toilet with me. They were aged 3 and 7 the security guard told me off. I said no way would he be going to the men's. Not long after that my son decided he would go on his own but I stood outside.
I was a 10 yr old victim of relatives sick behaviour. No way on this earth would I have given anyone the opportunity to abuse my children.

adaunas Tue 07-Sep-21 15:34:09

I don’t usually use a cubicle to change at the gym, but I’m good at manœuvering my towel. Nevertheless when I heard a chorus of “Hi Mrs A” from Mrs X’s 3 sons, 5, 7, and 9 on our changing rooms, a cubicle became essential! I teach/taught all of them, but they don’t need to see my delectable body and I certainly don’t want them discussing it in the playground!grin grin

Sago Tue 07-Sep-21 15:53:25

Bluebelle stop being so grumpy.

The mothers saw to their children then went in to their cubicles alone.

I wouldn’t send a 7 year old away to school either, the point I am making is that our generation seem to have been far more capable at a younger age.

JaneJudge Tue 07-Sep-21 16:07:10

Sago, I did post earlier about this but the leisure centres themselves have rules about children being accompanied under a certain age and it is a direct result of safeguarding. It isn't (or wasn't) unusual for youngsters to be sexually assaulted in swimming pools. Ask anyone who has ever worked in a leisure centre, they know who these men are.

As for dressing/undressing, I do think that is a bit odd. You used to be asked to get them used to putting their PE kit on and off before they started school. Mine had no problem though as they used to and still do change their clothes several times a day hmm

Bibbity Tue 07-Sep-21 16:13:15

You mean the generation that has now been discovered to have had rampant child abuse covered up?…

Whitewavemark2 Tue 07-Sep-21 16:19:17


I was not pleased when semi -naked in the ladies changing room a mother took a forbidden shortcut to the downstairs cubicles families were supposed to use with two junior aged boys I taught; they sniggered the whole way through and back in school the next day.
Not a cultural thing, more to do with old-er age and modesty.
Gyms are encouraging family membership; provision for children's changing rooms is an issue they have to address.

??that is cultural

NotSpaghetti Tue 07-Sep-21 17:54:59


It’s not about dressing or undressing themselves.
Or about the class of the members. Look at the news most the predators are from the upper classes.

This is NOT true.
Abusers are everywhere and most likely to be family or very close to the family.

BlueBelle Tue 07-Sep-21 18:15:01

I m not grumpy at all sago trying to put your question into perspective but anyway nothing more to be said

Bibbity Tue 07-Sep-21 18:44:36

Yes most likely.

But the idea the OP put forward that it’s perfectly safe because everyone signs in and their all well to do is just laughable.

The Prost prolific pedophiles that I know are all the wealthy upper class and well know.

NotSpaghetti Tue 07-Sep-21 18:57:29

You probably mean the ones you have heard about bibbity.
We always hear most about high profile people.

I take it you don't work in this area?

Devorgilla Tue 07-Sep-21 19:57:14

No-one seems to have considered the mother with a disabled child or one with autism. My daughter sometimes takes her 14 going on 15 autistic son swimming, an outing he loves. Getting into the pool is fine as she normally changes him in advance but getting out wet and having to change to dry clothes presents a real problem. She cannot let him go into the male changing room on his own. He has no sense of 'stranger danger' and could also easily be bullied by others or disappear if he is changed first. She tries to get a disabled cubicle but these are in very short supply. No-one, when they design changing rooms, consider this problem. I think all changing and toilet areas should have a facility that allows a parent to 'lock' the child into a cubicle in a dual facility that they, the parent, control so that both parties can change without impinging on the 'righteous' outrage of the rest of us. At the moment she just runs the gauntlet of the nasty comments and stares and takes him in with her.

Sago Tue 07-Sep-21 20:15:19

Bibbity At no point did I say everyone was “ well to do” I said it was a members only and people signed in.

If it was a municipal pool anyone could walk in.
I stated it was as safe as you can get.

Unfortunately we live in a world where teachers, youth leaders, priests, Uncles, Aunts, next door neighbours are all potentially suspects, however we cannot be with our children 24/7.

We have to allow young people independence and they have to be aware of the dangers.
How can we do this if we are hand holding until they leave home?

Bobbysgirl19 Tue 07-Sep-21 20:33:53

You make some very goor points Devorgilla Life isn’t that straightforward at times and people can sometimes make judgements without knowing the full facts.

Nannarose Tue 07-Sep-21 21:29:17

Devorgilla, you make a good point. I hope that your friend makes this very strongly to the pool she uses.

I use a few different pools regularly, and all of them have good family and / or disabled changing facilities. It is unacceptable to have to wait for more than a short time for one to become available.

Whilst sympathetic, I do think that your friend should be standing her ground for a proper changing facility, and not taking her son into the women's areas. I don't think it is helpful for anybody to have to deal with the situation you describe.

Grannynannywanny Tue 07-Sep-21 21:55:37

Devorgilla has indeed raised a very good point and I’m sure her daughter and grandson have encountered this problem in more places than their local leisure centre.

I experience this when travelling with my cousin who has a severe learning disability. In some places, including airports, I have found sometimes that the disabled toilet is either in the male or female toilet block rather than an entirely separate one. So I’m faced with the choice of taking him to the disabled cubicle in the female toilets or I have to take him to the disabled cubicle in the male toilets. I feel I tend to cause the most alarm by taking a middle aged man into the female toilets so I go in the male toilets and avert my eyes from the wall of urinals.

CanadianGran Tue 07-Sep-21 22:43:49

Our pool has only a men's or ladies' change rooms. When my boys were over 7, I would send them into the men's, change myself quickly and hover by the men's door. On occasion I had been known to open the door a crack and yell down the hall for "D & J to hurry up, please, Mum is waiting!" You can't see directly to the change area, since the hallway turns. There are surprisingly few cubicles though for the amount of swimmers.

I am so happy now that airports and other public spaces have family toilets. I hated sending my young boys into the unknown.